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Idaho inventor and author dies at 95

Harold W. Hannebaum

Harold W. Hannebaum, the man who revolutionized fireplace design in the 1970s by making it possible for glass to be used in fireplaces, died May 3, 2005, in Kimberly, of causes incident to age. He was 95.

Hannebaum's famous "Carousel Fireplace," first patented 35 years ago, is used in many ski lodges and private homes around the world. The fire is mounted on a raised platform completely surrounded by glass. The fire spins like a tornado in the center, and heat radiates through the glass with minimal warming of the glass.

Although Hannebaum kept a personal file with more than 400 inventions, he applied for and received only 14 patents, 11 of them having to do with fireplace design, said Larry Christensen, a longtime friend and editor of his many books.

One of Hannebaum's inventions that he did not patent was the rotary lawnmower, Christensen said. "He developed and used one for decades before they were manufactured and marketed by other companies. Some of his other unpatented inventions involved firearm safety, electric shavers, and saving the endangered salmon."

"Unlike most inventors, who work in a corporate or commercial setting, Hannebaum was one of the very few who worked as an independent inventor. While his inventions made millions, he spent most of his wealth chasing manufacturers that were infringing on his patent rights," Christensen said.

Harold Wulber Hannebaum was born Jan. 6, 1910, in Metamora, Franklin County, Ind., to John H. and Flora Nell Jones Hannebaum. He moved with his family to Idaho at 10 years of age. He lived in Eden, then married Tilda Mae Brownlee, of Gooding, and lived most of his married life in Gooding and Bellevue, before moving to Kimberly in November 2003.

Hannebaum was widely recognized as a master storyteller and author. He wrote seven autobiographical books, including "The King of Metamora," which vividly describes his years in Indiana, and "The Magic Valley," about his days as a youngster in Eden. The University of Idaho Press published both in 1995.

Hannebaum is survived by his wife of 59 years, Tilda Mae.

Interment will be in the Elmwood Cemetery near Gooding. There will be no memorial services at Hannebaum's request. Donations in memory of Hannebaum may be made to his favorite cause, scholarships for American Indian students at Idaho State University in Pocatello.

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